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Thread: How to build a solo?

  1. #51
    Registered User T.D.Nydn's Avatar
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    Apr 2015
    Upstate N.Y.

    Default Re: How to build a solo?

    I usually start simple than get complex,play a melody,deviate from it and then return to it.I've read studies that suggest the listeners usually only remember the beginning and end solos,so to make a statement,start dramatically and end dramatically and anything in between is noodle...

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  3. #52
    Registered User lowtone2's Avatar
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    Feb 2003
    lower alabama

    Default Re: How to build a solo?

    The OP didn't state the genre, but whatever it is, that's a language to be learned. People have covered the mechanics, and there are mountains of approaches to constructing a solo. Embellish the melody, play the changes, play modally or use common goes on and on.

    The main thing is listening. You have to listen to learn the language. You want to solo in a bluegrass context? Listen to a lot of bluegrass. Internalize it on an intuitive level, and a technical level, but primarily the intuitive. That's where taste and musicality come from. You study the process and incorporate technical ideas, but the goal is musical flow. Improvising is simply constructing a solo in real time, and amazingly, humans are equipped to do that once they have the language. Constructing a solo out of real time and repeating it is not that different. Either way you have to build the solo.

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  5. #53
    gardener catmandu2's Avatar
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    Jan 2006
    Western MT, USA

    Default Re: How to build a solo?

    Quote Originally Posted by lowtone2 View Post
    ... humans are equipped to do that once they have the language. Constructing a solo out of real time and repeating it is not that different. Either way you have to build the solo.

    That's exactly right! You got to be the one putting it out - whether it be 'my dog has fleas' or whatever you happen to be playing. That's music.

  6. #54

    Default Re: How to build a solo?

    Is it possible for a solo to sound like someone reciting a list of English idioms?
    I think Chris Thile, at his most entertaining, has done this before.

  7. #55
    The Amateur Mandolinist Mark Gunter's Avatar
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    Apr 2014
    Alvarado/Mansfield, Texas

    Default Re: How to build a solo?

    Building vocabulary ... here's my approach

    1. Listen, listen, listen ... listen some more. So this will be easiest with the music you love. Learn the music you've loved all your life, even if it is not typically played on mandolin. If you're really getting into new music, make sure it's something you really love to hear. Listen closely to the nuances that make it appealing to you and try to imitate that sound with your mandolin.

    2. Study any available materials/resources. Find lessons, purchase lessons, find a teacher, pay the teacher, and assimilate what you can from available resources.

    3. Transcribe. Try to learn note-for-note the solos of players you admire, and listen carefully and try to incorporate the nuances of their playing. A difficult, sometimes frustrating, but very rewarding task that is usually doomed to failure - that is, you'll probably never sound just like your heroes, so you'll learn a great deal and find your own voice for playing what you learn from this exercise.

    4. Noodle. Noodle around on your mandolin and try to find your own licks or melodies that sound good in context. This will help you to develop your own voice and style, and who knows, you may inadvertently write the next great tune doing this.

    5. Perform.
    Find someone to play with who loves much of the same music that you do. I prefer doing this with a guitarist, but it could be an ensemble, a pianist, etc. Someone you can play with and collaborate with. Perform the material together either in isolation or before an audience.
    b) Make recordings or videos of any song you work up so you can see and/or hear how your performance really works, subjectively, and take notes for improvement.

    Books could be written (and surely have been) on this stuff, the subject is vast, but for myself personally, that is how I go about building a musical vocabulary, in order of importance more or less chronologically.

    Part one began just after you were born - and perhaps while you were in the womb. Your brain is already full of music and the need is to learn how to tap into it.
    "Life is short. Play hard." - AlanN

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